Medical negligence and medical malpractice occur when healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses, make serious medical mistakes and omissions while treating their patients or performing various medical procedures. Doctors and other healthcare providers owe their patients a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances, meaning that they are responsible for performing procedures correctly, prescribing and administering the proper medications at the proper times, and meeting all of their patients’ needs satisfactorily.
If you or a person you love has suffered an injury or illness as a result of a healthcare provider’s medical mistake, there are certain steps that you should always take. Your first step should be to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your state. Your lawyer can then investigate the alleged malpractice and determine if you can assert a claim against the at-fault doctor’s insurance company or file a lawsuit against the doctor directly.
The main purpose of a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit is to pursue monetary compensation and damages for the illness or injuries that you suffered due to the malpractice. Your lawyer will then file the claim or lawsuit on your behalf and pursue the monetary compensation that you deserve for your illness or injury. Your attorney can also pursue a favorable settlement on your behalf, and if necessary, file a lawsuit in the court system and pursue litigation.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice involves a negligent act or omission that occurs in the healthcare context. The doctor may commit an act of medical malpractice if they take an action that a reasonable doctor would not have got under the same or similar circumstances. Likewise, if a doctor fails to do something that a hypothetical reasonable doctor would have done under the same or similar circumstances, then the treating doctor likely committed an act of medical malpractice.
While specialists, such as cardiologists and orthopedic doctors, typically hold to a larger, national standard of care, other healthcare providers hold to a reasonable standard of care for the locality where their practice exists.
Some of the most common types of medical mistakes that occur are those pertaining to medical procedures, including injections and surgeries. For example, during a surgical procedure, the doctor might operate on the incorrect body part, resulting in future complications for the injured patient. In the alternative, the doctor might leave a syringe, sponge, or some other piece of surgical equipment in the patient’s body before closing it up again.
Medical malpractice can also occur when a healthcare provider exceeds the scope of a patient’s consent. For a doctor to perform a medical or surgical procedure, the patient must first consent to it in writing, knowing all of the risks and benefits associated with the procedure. Therefore, if a healthcare provider performs surgery or another procedure for which the patient did not consent, the healthcare provider could be on the line for medical malpractice.
In addition, healthcare providers must provide their patients with proper medication. The doctor might fail to take into account patient allergies and medication combinations when prescribing a particular drug. In addition, doctors sometimes prescribe patients with the incorrect medication dosage when they are writing prescriptions. Any of these acts of negligence could result in the patient becoming injured or ill. The injured patient could later bring a claim or file a lawsuit against the healthcare provider for medical malpractice.
Providers are also responsible for diagnosing a patient’s medical condition promptly. Certain types of medical conditions, such as cancer, can be detected early on by taking biopsies and reviewing imaging studies. What a healthcare provider does not order the proper tests or otherwise fails to diagnose a patient’s medical condition promptly, the injured or ill patient could file a claim for medical malpractice against the healthcare provider.
Healthcare providers are obviously also responsible for ensuring that they perform the correct medical procedures on patients. In most cases, before performing a medical procedure (such as surgery), the doctor has the patient mark the correct body part with an “x.” If a healthcare provider operates on the incorrect body part, then they could be responsible for any complications that result.
Finally, and most especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are responsible for making sure that their facilities are kept clean at all times for the benefit of their patients. This duty includes making sure that exam rooms, exam tables, and instruments are properly sanitized and wiped down regularly. If a patient can trace their illness to an unsanitary doctor’s office, they can bring a claim against the doctor or the practice.
If you or someone you care about has been the victim of one or more of these types of medical malpractice, you might be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit seeking monetary damages and other compensation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney near you could assist with preparing a settlement demand, negotiating a settlement of the case, and, if necessary, taking your case to a jury trial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding.
Qualities of a Good Medical Malpractice Attorney
When it comes to filing medical malpractice claims and lawsuits, not all lawyers are the same. If you’re thinking about retaining an experienced medical malpractice attorney to represent you, you want to have an attorney accustomed to handling these types of matters in court and taking these cases to trial. Therefore, you should be on the lookout for certain qualities in a medical malpractice attorney.
For example, you want the lawyer who represents you to have a significant amount of experience handling medical malpractice cases in the past. The right medical malpractice attorney should have experience not just with settling these types of cases, but also successfully taking them to jury trials and arbitrations and obtaining favorable results. By having an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area by your side, you will likely have the best chance of success when it comes to pursuing and obtaining monetary compensation for your injuries.
In addition to making sure that your medical malpractice attorney has the experience, you will want to make sure that they have a successful record when it comes to medical malpractice cases, meaning that your attorney will have taken medical malpractice cases to trial before and obtained good results for clients, either by way of settlements or medical malpractice verdicts at trial (or arbitration awards).
Finally, you want to make sure that you retain a medical malpractice attorney in your area who has a good reputation. Lawyers with good reputations typically have the skills necessary to assist you with pursuing a favorable settlement or jury verdict in your medical malpractice case.
If you or a person you love has become injured or ill as a result of medical malpractice, a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer in your area will be a strong asset to your case. Your lawyer can assist you with pursuing the monetary compensation and damages that you deserve, either by way of filing a medical malpractice claim or a lawsuit against the negligent healthcare provider.
Steps to Take After Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
In most states throughout the country, a victim of medical malpractice cannot file a lawsuit against the healthcare provider right away. Instead, the injured or ill patient first needs to file a certificate of qualified expert, sometimes called an expert affidavit, with the court. In this affidavit, an independent healthcare provider who practices in the same medical field, as the at-fault doctor will testify that, in their opinion, the defendant healthcare provider committed one or more negligent acts when treating the plaintiff patient.
For example, the expert could testify that in their opinion, and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the at-fault doctor made a serious medical mistake when they performed a recent surgical procedure on the patient.
It is important to keep in mind that there are often filing deadlines when it comes to expert affidavits. In addition, you must typically file the affidavit before bringing a formal lawsuit against the at-fault doctor.
If you are interested in pursuing a medical malpractice claim against a healthcare provider, a medical malpractice attorney near you will determine your eligibility. In addition, your lawyer can assist you with getting a qualified expert on board in your case and obtaining a signed affidavit from them regarding the at-fault doctor.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against the Negligent Healthcare Provider
Once you have obtained an expert affidavit from an independent healthcare provider who can testify in court about the alleged malpractice, you can file a lawsuit directly against the negligent provider who committed the act of malpractice.
When it comes to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, certain statutes of limitation will apply, depending on your jurisdiction. A statute of limitations serves as a time deadline by which you must file a lawsuit against the healthcare provider who committed malpractice. Statutes of limitation ensure that cases move along quickly and efficiently and safeguard against evidence growing stale in the case.
In many states, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case begins to run on the date the alleged malpractice occurred. In some states, the deadline for filing a lawsuit against a negligent healthcare provider may only be one or two years from the date on which the alleged malpractice occurred.
If that is the case, it is important that you have knowledgeable legal counsel by your side as soon as possible and as early on in your case as possible. Also, in some instances, there will be a statute of repose in place. This deadline is typically longer than the statute of limitations. It comes into play if the injured patient could not have reasonably discovered the alleged malpractice until a certain amount of time had first passed.
In addition to filing your medical malpractice lawsuit promptly, you must successfully prove all of the legal elements of your claim to pursue and recover monetary damages. First, you must show that the at-fault healthcare provider owed you a duty of care that they violated by acting unreasonably in some way. For example, the healthcare provider may not have been paying attention under the circumstances and may have made a serious mistake, causing the patient to suffer an injury or illness.
In addition to demonstrating that the healthcare provider violated the duty of care, the injured patient must demonstrate that they suffered an injury as a direct and proximate result of the negligent act committed by the healthcare provider. Once an injured patient proves all of these legal elements, they can pursue and potentially recover monetary compensation in the form of damages.
The types and amounts of damages for which an accident victim may be eligible in a medical malpractice case depend on a variety of factors. These factors include the nature and extent of the injuries that the patient suffered, the types of injuries that the patient suffered, and the cost of the patient’s medical bills and expenses. Also, in medical malpractice cases where the injured patient has to undergo a future corrective surgery, your attorney can secure the services of an expert who can calculate the anticipated cost of that surgery or other procedure into the damage award.
In addition, if the injury or illness resulting from the medical malpractice prevented the injured patient from working for a specific time, then the injured patient could bring a claim for lost wages. The injured patient might also be eligible to recover compensation for emotional stress, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and inconvenience.
These claims can be complicated and highly technical, and you do not want to risk losing the compensation that you need for your losses. An experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area will use all of their skills and resources to do everything possible to help you recover the monetary damages that you deserve.